TARGET: SANTA FE, NM

Today was going to be a marginal setup that could produce some cells forming off the high ground in NE New Mexico and dropping off the mountainous areas. We had some time to include a side trip through the highest points of New Mexico which would take in the spectacular Rio Grande Gorge and the bridge that spans it. We headed off and our trip slowly began to take us up into the Rocky Mountains of New Mexico. It wasn't long before the snow capped peaks begun to come into view. We came up to the Rio Grande Gorge, however you wouldn't even know it was there until you got within 200m of it. The only hint is the bridge that spans it! We pulled up to have a look and a cell to our north had caught attention which had some very nice updrafts. We wandered over to have a look at the gorge and what a sight it was! The edges dropped away to the Rio Grande River some 250m below the surrounding country side. The United States is the country that keeps on giving just when you think you can't see anything else that will shock you, around the next corner is something else that takes your breath away! We took lots of photos then considered the storm to our north, which looked quite strong with still powerful updrafts powering up into the atmosphere. We got to Taos then headed up into the mountains which at its highest point was 9450ft/3000m. We crossed the top and the view opened out and our storm was directly in front of us. Conveniently there was an area to pull off and observe so sat and watched the cell continually push updrafts up. At one stage it even managed to form a wall cloudwith a weak funnel dropping down. I did some timelapse which should look absolutely amazing!. We decided to have a closer look so we dropped down off the mountains to the town of Mora and the base became apparent. It looked quite severe and radar backed up our suspicions with a 1.75" hail signature. There was areas of weak rotation so we came to the conclusion were sitting under a supercell. We moved further east to observe and the cell had developed into an incredible sight with beaver tail and classic supercell structure. We found another vantage point and another chaser pulled and said he had been in the core and there was hail up to tennis ball size! Wow!! The marginal setup had produced a beautifully structured supercell with 3" hail. It was beyond our expectations and we were just about the only chasers on it....with the exception of another group of Aussie chasers. The South Brisbane Storms crew were just up the road from us so we pulled up and chatted to them and tried to bag some lightning however the cell ( as usual) didn't cooperate with bolts so we called it a night. Once again we had trouble getting accomodation so we had to travel an extra 1hr further north to find something, eventually arriving at 1130pm! On the way we must have just missed passing through the core of the dying cell as the Interstate was covered in hail for about a mile! What a surprise day! After seeing more spectacular US countryside we were rewarded with a unexpected supercell!

 

Mora Panorama